2014 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Become Instant Stars for New York Jets

John Shea@real_johnsheaContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Become Instant Stars for New York Jets

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    USA TODAY Sports

    As the 2014 NFL offseason gets underway, the New York Jets will begin the "reloading" process of their long-term plan for success.

    The Jets are equipped with a bounty of cap space and an arsenal of draft picks this spring, enabling a talent-less team to become legitimate playoff contenders.

    If the Jets are going to earn a playoff berth next season, they need to draft players capable of making an immediate impact in their first season of NFL action. Highly touted draft prospects don't always translate into studs at the next level, though, making it crucial for general manager John Idzik to effectively evaluate this group of prospects.

    Idzik doesn't have extensive talent-evaluation experience, but he does hav a trustworthy band of coaches and scouts at his disposal, ready to make the right decisions. The Jets could have as many as 12 picks in this year's draft, including four selections in the first three rounds.

    New York will aim to fill several gaps in their roster come draft day.

    The following slideshow examines seven NFL draft prospects who could become instant stars for the Jets.

7. Jeremiah Attaochu (OLB): Georgia Tech

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    Former Georgia Tech outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu is a versatile pass-rusher who can lineup with his hand in the dirt or in a two-point stance.

    He played his final collegiate season as a down lineman in Georgia Tech's reenvisioned 4-3 base defense, but lined up as a standup edge-rusher in the three seasons prior. At 6'3'' and 252 pounds, Attaochu has the size needed to play OLB in head coach Rex Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme.

    Attaochu demonstrated excellent range throughout his college career, using his quickness off the edge and long arms to drag down ball-carriers in the backfield. He racked up 16 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in his senior season.

    Attacochu features the type of athletic ability needed to immediately excel in the NFL. He exhibits a fierce aggressiveness on the field, often wearing his emotions on his sleeve.

    His glaring weakness is that he relies on instinctive ability and sometimes bites too hard on play fakes, according to Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com. He also has a tendency to get grab-happy in coverage and will need to improve upon his technique in order to develop into an elite linebacker at the next level.

    The Jets need a player with raw pass-rushing ability, like Attaochu, though. His speed and length make him difficult to block, enabling him to quickly penetrate into the backfield. The Jets recorded 41.0 sacks in 2013, ranking 13th in the league.

    Adding Attaochu at No. 69 overall has the potential to greatly improve the Jets' ability both to pressure opposing quarterbacks and stuff the run.

6. Dion Bailey (S): Southern California

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    Former Southern California safety Dion Bailey is the brand of player the Jets need in their secondary.

    Bailey is an athletic ball hawk, registering five interceptions and six passes defensed in his final collegiate season. He's highly regarded as a hybrid defender who has extensive college experience as a strong-side linebacker.

    Bailey finished his career at USC with 223 career tackles, including 16.5 for loss, and 11 interceptions. He doesn't feature outstanding size at 6'0'' and 200 pounds but is fluid in coverage and demonstrates excellent ball awareness.

    He's a disciplined football player who rarely gets sucked out of position. He's unafraid of contact, showcasing supreme ability to knock down receivers after the pass has arrived.

    Bailey also demonstrates stellar footwork. He changes directions well and seldom allows receivers to gain separation over the top.

    The Jets ranked 11th against the pass in 2013, allowing opponents to rack up 247 passing yards per game. Still, the current safety position needs to be upgraded.

    Bailey's talents will be tough to ignore, especially if he's still on the board at No. 69 overall.

5. Jordan Matthews (WR): Vanderbilt

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    Former Vanderbilt wide receiver Jordan Matthews is a big-bodied receiving target who has the speed needed to become a dynamic playmaker in the NFL.

    Matthews currently grades as a second-round pick, but could offer the best all-around value at receiver in this year's draft. He was an unstoppable force in his senior season, racking up 112 receptions for 1,477 yards and seven touchdowns.

    Matthews' freakish athletic ability is in line with his attributes. At 6'3'' and 209 pounds, Matthews is very difficult for cornerbacks and safeties to defend. He features advantageous hand strength as well as the long arms that allow him to reel in tough catches over the top of defensive backs.

    Matthews, a cousin of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, excelled against elite competition in the SEC throughout his collegiate career. And, of course, the Jets desperately need help on the perimeter.

    Drafting a player like Matthews would greatly increase the viability of New York's offense. At No. 49 overall, the Jets must draft Matthews if he is still on the board.

4. Dee Ford (OLB/DE): Auburn

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    Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford is an explosive pass-rusher who developed into a premier player as a fifth-year senior.

    Half of Ford's tackles were for loss (14.5) in his final collegiate season. He also racked up 10.5 sacks. Ford uses an impressive burst and agility to gain leverage against blockers off the snap.

    Rob Rang of CBSSports.com indicates that Ford also has the ability to drop back into coverage, despite lining up in a three-point stance. His fluid athletic ability makes him highly valuable from a draft standpoint.

    Ford is slightly undersized at 6'2'' and 243 pounds but has room to grow. He'd fit nicely as an OLB in Ryan's 3-4 defensive scheme if the LB is able to tack on some weight.

    The Jets' interior pass rush is solid, led by 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson. Securing an ability to blitz off the edge is vital if they're going to become the best defense in the league next season.

    Ford, like Matthews, would be a stout selection at No. 49 overall.

3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE): Washington

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    Former Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a bulky receiving target that presents a mismatch in the passing game because of his arm length and frame.

    At 6'6'' and 276 pounds, Seferian-Jenkins is a dynamic offensive weapon who features above-average pass-catching ability. He racked up 146 catches for 1,840 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns in three seasons at the collegiate level.

    Seferian-Jenkins is an efficient route-runner who features the quickness needed to gain separation from defenders off the snap. He's the type of player the Jets need in their offense because he would supply the quarterback with an enormous downfield target.

    His size advantage makes him tremendously difficult to bottle up in coverage. He also demonstrates supreme flexibility for a player of his size, showcasing sound body control, according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com.

    Seferian-Jenkins is an intelligent player, frequently finding holes in the defense to give his signal-caller open looks at easy completions. He's also an above-average blocker, leveraging his size and strength to help solidify run-blocking schemes.

    The Jets need to add as much offensive firepower as possible in this year's draft. Selecting Seferian-Jenkins at No. 49 overall would be a solid move.

2. Marqise Lee (WR): Southern California

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    Former Southern California wide receiver Marqise Lee is a game-changing downfield target who will have an immediate impact in the NFL.

    Lee was virtually unstoppable in three seasons at the college level, recording 248 catches for 3,655 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. He doesn't feature significant size at 6'0'' and 200 pounds, but he is remarkably athletic.

    Lee frequently showcases outstanding vertical speed. He's able to sprint past defensive backs and quickly change directions. His route-running ability is superb, making him tough for cornerbacks and safeties to cover.

    He's an elusive receiver who features breakaway speed after the catch. He also presents value as a downfield blocker and kick returner.

    The Jets receiving corps are arguably the worst in pro football, as it combined to reel in a dismal total of 13 touchdown passes. The Jets' passing game was flat-out horrendous in 2013, ranking 31st in the league.

    Drafting Lee at No. 18 overall would add much needed talent and speed to a decrepit core of so-called "playmakers."

1. Eric Ebron (TE): North Carolina

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    Former North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron is a highly athletic receiving target who showcases premier speed at his position.

    Ebron was a beast in his final collegiate season, racking up 973 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 62 catches. He averaged 15.7 yards per reception, frequently utilizing his swift athletic ability to make defenders whiff on tackle attempts.

    Ebron is incredibly agile at 6'4'' and 245 pounds. He's also dynamic, able to lineup on the line of scrimmage or in the slot. His value as a pass-catching tight end is incomparable among other prospects at his position, although he needs to improve as a run-blocker.

    His ability to cut upfield and change direction on the fly makes him difficult for defenders to tackle. Ebron has stellar ball awareness and soft hands.

    His large catch radius often disables defensive backs from knocking down pass attempts, according to Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com.

    It's absolutely paramount for the Jets to draft a playmaker at No. 18 overall, making Ebron a highly coveted prospect.